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It's still kind of difficult to believe that the insanely prolific Steven Soderbergh is retiring from filmmaking. This is a man who's directed almost 30 features—often at a clip of two a year—since 1989's career-launching Sex, Lies, and Videotape. If he's not shooting movies, what will he do with all those ideas—that seemingly inexhaustible volume of stuff cluttering up his headspace?
Perhaps the director can make a living on the lecture circuit. He certainly established his public-speaking bona fides on Saturday, delivering the keynote address of the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival. Proving he's still got plenty on his mind, while also shedding some possible light on why he's (maybe) calling it quits behind the camera, Soderbergh barreled through what some folks are already calling his State of the Cinema Talk. In the self-described rant, the filmmaker ruminated about the state of the film industry, drawing a distinction between "movies" and "cinema," and lamenting the decision-making process of the studio system. He also mused about the immorality of piracy, the inescapable blare of music in public spaces, the absurdity of the 9/11 Truth movement, and the value of art itself. It's a digressive, vaguely cantankerous, and deeply thoughtful speech. It's funny, too, as when he notes, "I could tell you a really good story of how I got pushed off a movie because of the way the numbers ran, but if I did, I’d probably get shot in the street, and I really like my cats."
And lest one think Soderbergh was all gloom and doom, he ended on a hopeful note, and even found room for shout-outs to young turks Shane Carruth, Barry Jenkins, and Amy Seimetz. Anyone with an interest in the director, the future of the medium, or the quality of Jet Blue's airport terminals should take a gander at the full transcript.